#BigasHindiBala: Filipino-Canadian groups condemn Kidapawan violence
VANCOUVER, Canada – On the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery on April 3, Filipino-Canadians and human rights advocates gathered in peaceful protest for the victims of the violent dispersal of the drought protest in Kidapawan.
Protestors denounced the lack of food security and condemned the violence allegedly ensued by the Philippine National Police (PNP). A solemn prayer was said for the farmers, accompanied by lamentations over the lack of government accountability following disasters such as Typhoon Haiyan, and this time, one of the most severe droughts in Philippine history.
“When I was 10 years old I experienced 8 months of El Niño. Drought brings about immense suffering—you have absolutely nothing to eat, because everything that grows is dead,” said Bert Monterona, an internationally recognized Lumad artist from Mindanao.
“It seems that to someone who has not starved, food is forgotten as a basic human right.”
Victoria Chen from the Grassroots Women Collective, reminded passersby that they were standing on unceded Coast Salish territories – land that was never surrendered to settlers by indigenous peoples who first inhabited Vancouver.
She referenced the link between the struggles of First Nations in Canada with indigenous groups and farmers in the Philippines as people who are “over-policed and under-protected.”
Parvin Ashrafi from the Iranian Center for Peace and Justice, also spoke to Filipinos on the global significance of protesting against violence in order to “give voice to the voiceless”.
Chaya Go, standing alongside other Filipino scholars, underscored the importance of addressing the issue of climate justice: “The climate crisis is ongoing. Our farmers who work on the land suffer the most from intensifying weather conditions. Governments fail them when due preparations are not made or when calamity relief is withheld from them.”
Half a dozen attendees, including Jane Ordinario of Migrante BC, come from Kidapawan. They grieve the violence in their hometown.
On April 8, 2016, Filipinos across the global diaspora will be staging simultaneous acts of solidarity on the Global Day of Action for the farmers in Kidapawan.
These public protests serve as a strong call for peace, justice, and vigilance with farmers and the Lumad in Philippines: We are with you, the world is watching. - Rappler.com
Chaya Ocampo Go and Gen Cruz are Filipina migrant scholars at the University of British Columbia